Educational games as a motivational tool: considerations on their potential and limitations

Marcello Passarelli, Francesca Maria Dagnino, Jeffrey Earp, Flavio Manganello, Donatella Persico, Francesca Pozzi, Chris Bailey, Carlo Perrotta, Thomas Buijtenweg, Mata Haggis

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There is considerable interest in leveraging video games to support students’ motivation. This involves employment of educational (serious) and entertainment games. However, while evidence indicates that games can enhance learning outcomes, doubts persist about whether they retain their enjoyable character in formal learning contexts. This study was carried out within the H2020 Gaming Horizons project, which involved a review of academic literature on the role of games in society, as well as 73 semi-structured interviews with relevant stakeholders, including players and educators, investigating their positions on game-related issues. The interviews suggested that players tend to view game-based learning – and specifically serious games at school – with scepticism. This is partly attributable to the perception that serious games have lower production values than entertainment games, and that gaming, as a voluntary, self-driven activity, clashes with the structured nature of school. Some educators reported individual and gender differences in the motivating power of games. However, the use of entertainment games to foster learning outcomes was seen favourably. Two focus groups devoted to the issue highlighted the need for carefully tailoring the gaming experience to both context and student, and the importance of developing a sustainable business model for enhancing serious games quality.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCSEDU 2019
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 11th International Conference on Computer Supported Education
EditorsH. Lane, Susan Zvacek, James Uhomoibhi
Place of PublicationPortugal
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9789897583674
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventInternational Conference on Computer Supported Education 2019 - Heraklion, Crete, Greece
Duration: 2 May 20194 May 2019
Conference number: 11th


ConferenceInternational Conference on Computer Supported Education 2019
Abbreviated titleCSEDU 2019
CityHeraklion, Crete


  • Game-based Learning
  • Gamification
  • Motivation
  • Serious Games

Cite this

Passarelli, M., Dagnino, F. M., Earp, J., Manganello, F., Persico, D., Pozzi, F., ... Haggis, M. (2019). Educational games as a motivational tool: considerations on their potential and limitations. In H. Lane, S. Zvacek, & J. Uhomoibhi (Eds.), CSEDU 2019: Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Computer Supported Education (1st ed., Vol. 1, pp. 330-337). Portugal: Scitepress.